The Dooleys


TYDEMAN & DOOLEY were a pair of comedic acrobats who starred on the B.F. Keith vaudeville circuit in the 1900s and 1910s. 

Tydeman & Dooley

Vincent A. Tydeman grew up in Camden, and also had a long career as a minor league baseball player. After retiring from baseball and the stage he remained a Camden resident until his passing in 1975. The Tydeman family lived in North and East Camden though at least the late 1970s, and were on Howell Street for many years.

The Dooleys were a family act, and at least one of the Dooley brothers lived in Camden for many years. The family name was originally Dool. As of this writing, I'm not sure which of the three Dooley brothers was Vincent Tydeman's partner, but I suspect it was either Johnny Dooley or Billy Dooley, pictured at left. Billy was the oldest, and is the more likely of the two. The third brother, Gordon Dooley, would have been too young. It may well have been that Tydeman's partner was the Dooley father, Robert Rogers Dool, which would explain the clown makeup in the photograph above.

The Dooley's collectively had been a huge success for a brief time in vaudeville, and  after the family act broke up several of the family went on to careers individually, with varying degrees of success.

Journalist Dan McConnell, who had grown up in the same neighborhood and had worked as a publicist for the Keith circuit in the 1910s wrote about the Dooleys in the late 1930s, as did Gordon Mackay, while working for the Courier. North Camden barber Pat Iarossi, who had a shop for many years at North Third Street told the following to Mackay in early 1938:

"I used to cut Ann Pennington’s hair when she was a child," Pat recalled. "And the Dooleys always made my shop their headquarters. Billy Dooley worked for me. The kids, six  [ FIVE to be correct- PMC ] of them, trained in a patch we called the 'cow lot’. Rae and Mae were the two girls, while Johnny was the big shot of the boys.”

“They used to turn cartwheels right out in the lot there and come into my shop to do a little vocal rehearsing. Ann Pennington was always dancing, you couldn't keep her feet still. I remember one day Ann, Johnny Dooley and a girl named Moore went over to Lubin's in Philadelphia, trying to break into the movies.

“Lubin wouldn’t handle them and they all came crying into my shop.”

In March of 2007 an e-mail came to this website from John Vaughan, grandson of Mae Dooley and great-nephew of the Ray Dooley and the Dooley brothers. John wrote at length about the his family's show-business legacy.

The Dooley's came to America in the late 1800's from Glasgow, Scotland and settled in Philly. The boys were named Johnny, Billy, and Gordon. The girls were named Ray and Mae. Their father, (my great grandfather) was named Robert Rogers Dooley, he was a famous Irish circus clown, and he married Mary Dool, from Glasgow, who was nicked named Mumsie.

The five kids all had an act, all did comedy, and the girl Mae, also sang. The went out on the road and toured a lot. Once, when they were all older, they played in Portsmouth, Virginia. Mae fell in love with a man she met there. They decided to get married, Mae dropped out of show business, the two of them moved back to Philly, and they had a baby boy in May of 1917. They named the child William Jonathan Dooley Vaughan. That child would grow up and become my father. That is my connection to the Dooley family.

The boys continued as a group and were headliners in their day. Doing mainly slap stick comedy. They stared in many comedy plays plus The Ziegfield Follies, George White Scandals and The Earl Carroll Vanities. We are talking early 1900's till after WWI into the early 1920's.

The girl, Ray (also spelled Rae sometimes), split off on her own and became a very big star, also on Broadway as an actress and a comedienne. She performed in many musicals and also in the Follies and Vaudeville.

Her greatest fame came when she did a "kid act" together with W.C. Fields in The Ziegfield Follies in 1920 & 1921. It was based on this act that W.C. Fields got his reputation as a "kid hater". The actress, Fanny Brice, who also worked with Ray and W.C., later stole the act for herself and called it Baby Snooks. Among other stars of the day, Ray Dooley later went on and performed together with Bob Hope (then called by his real name, Lester Hope) in the smash hit Broadway musical "The Sidewalks Of New York" in 1928.

Ray married a man named Eddie Dowling in 1931 (I think that was the year). He was famous in the business...a song and dance man, actor. director, producer, song writer (among other hits, he wrote "On The Side Walks Of New York"), and Pulitzer Prize Winner. He also introduced Tennessee Williams to Broadway in The Glass Menagerie.

W.C. Fields and Ray Dooley in the "Back Porch" scene from Ziegfield's Comic Supplement, January 1925. 

Eddie Dowling and Ray Dooley at Laguardia Airport, 1945

My father's mother, Mae Dooley Vaughan died in 1947 in Philly. My father, who died in 1993, never knew how old his parents were for some strange reason! Ray died in 1984 in East Hampton, New York, she was 88 [Newspapers say 93- PMC]. The three boys all married show girls and all died young. Johnny died in 1928, he was 41, Billy (William) died in 1921, he was 39, and Gordon died in 1930, he was 31. Gordon Dooley was the only one of the five kids who was born in America, in the year 1899. The others were all born in Glasgow.

Their father, Robert Rogers Dooley, also died young, of apoplexy just after son Gordon Dooley's marriage in 1922. That same year, Johnny Dooley was featured in the movie When Knighthood Was in Flower. Starring Marion Davies, it was the leading movie at the box-office of the 1922-1923 movie season. At at the time it was produced it was the most expensive movie ever made with cost an estimated at $1.8 million. The film was the pet project of the famous media magnate William Randolph Hearst.  

On the bicycle is Johnny Dooley. This photograph was shot on the set of When Knighthood Was in Flower in 1922. My best guess as to the actor dressed in black is that it is Downing Clarke, then 53, who played the role of Lord Chamberlain in the film- PMC.

Interestingly enough, the Dooley family is still involved in show business. John Vaughan, who has been living in Berlin, Germany for many years, is a singer, songwriter, and composer. You can find out more about John at his website

If anyone has any further information about this act, PLEASE e-mail me!

Phil Cohen

Dan McConnell's Scrapbook
Camden Courier-Post - January 5, 1938

New Orleans Times-Picayune

December 9, 1915

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Philadelphia Inquirer

July 20, 1918

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Trenton Times

October 13, 1920

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Baltimore Sun

April 7, 1921

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Baltimore Sun

July 14, 1921

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Cleveland Plain Dealer

December 25, 1927

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Variety - June 13, 1928


Variety - October 1921


New York Times - September 30, 1921

Philadelphia Inquirer - September 30, 1921

Robert Rogers Dooley
and his daughter
May Dool Vaughan

Robert Rogers Dooley and his New Chevrolet
204 Broadway, Camden, New Jersey
circa 1917

Robert Rogers Dooley

New York Times

August 5th, 1922

Robert Rogers Dooley


August 11th, 1922


Variety - January 29, 1930



J. Gordon Dooley, 31, comedian for the vaudeville team of Dooley and Morton, died January 24 at his home In Philadelphia of tuberculosis.

Dooley, going from vaude to legit, had appeared in a number of Broadway shows, including "Vanities," Ziegfeld's "Follies," "Honeymoon Lane", and "Hitchy Koo." He had entered vaude as a member of the Dooley' brothers act, working with William, who died September 29, 1921, when he was doing a double with another brother, Johnny, musical comedy comic, who died of appendicitis June 7, 1928.

Gordon Dooley married Martha Morton In July, 1922, when she was playing vaude with her parents, Sam and Kitty Morton. Martha replaced her sister Clara when she left the act to do a single.

Later Dooley and his wife formed a double act which was working up to time Gordon collapsed. Several months ago both Dooley and Miss Morton were about to appear in a talker short for Columbia pictures.

The day before camera work in Camden, N. J., Gordon became so ill that he had to go to his home in Philadelphia. He was never able to return to New York.

Ray Dooley (Mrs. Eddie Dowling) was appearing in "Follow Thru" and when her brother's condition became critical she left the show to be at his bedside. There is also another sister, Mrs. George Vaughan (non-pro).

The funeral services were held in the Dooley home in Bywood, a suburb of Philadelphia, with interment in Philadelphia. 

Ray Dooley & Charley 

Who "Charley"
was is not known.

Ray Dooley - 1920 

With cousins "Razie" & Billy Vaughan,
and John Graham Dowling

New York Times - January 30, 1984

Camden Courier-Post
January 30, 1984

Courtesy of Mary Dool Proctor,
Curtis Parrish, and John Vaughan